There’s a swinging, striking sound sweeping through hills, valleys, fairways and greens this week.
Whack! You can listen and then watch the flight of the ball. Fore!
High school golf has returned to local courses and that’s music to the ears of the players and their followers. Boys and girls began teeing it up in starting their drive toward reaching the IHSA finals.
The guys compete in a three-class state format Oct. 16-17 on courses at Bloomington and Normal. The girls participate in two classes the same weekend at Decatur. So it’s two months of chipping, putting, wedging in plenty of tournaments and ironing out any difficulties.
The idea is to walk briskly and carry a big stick.
What to expect in 2015?
More good things, I’d say. Greater Alton prep golfers made a major imprint in 2014. The East Alton-Wood River boys savored their first trip to state and cherished a 26-6 record, including an 11th-place showing in the Class 1A IHSA finals. The Alton High girls enjoyed their finest season in school history. The Redbirds posted a 15-1 record, claimed a Southwestern Conference championship, a sectional crown and finished 10th at state.
However, top AHS players Natalie Long, Tori Hays and Courtney Hachmann have graduated, causing Redbirds’ coach Carey Cappel to stir some rebuilding magic. She knows the way to do it. Just look at the record.
Alton went 1-13 in 2011, then improved to 9-8 and 17-1 and 15-1 the next two years, respectively. Thus, the Redbirds own a 32-2 record the past two seasons.
Drew Sobol, Brendon Allen and Hunter O’Brien should lead the EA-WR boys, who competed Monday in their Hickory Stick Classic at Belk Park. Sobol’s dad, Dave, guides the Oilers and also serves as the men’s coach at Lewis and Clark Community College.
And it was Drew Sobol reigning as this year’s Hickory Stick champ. He shot a blistering 5-under par 67 in the season-opening event. Roxana’s Zack Moore, the 2013-14 tournament winner and a top-30 finisher at the Class 2A state finals, is playing college golf for Dave Sobol at LCCC.
Carlee Cronin is back to lead the Marquette Catholic High girls. Coach Pat Moore boys’ team could be loaded for a deep run. They won the Hickory Stick event by 26 strokes and then were washed out Tuesday in the Alton Tee-Off Classic.
Freshmen Kolten Bauer and Sam Cogan are welcome additions to a team that includes juniors Michael Holtz, Nick Messinger and Duncan McLain, plus sophomore Jack Patterson.
Civic Memorial intends to be competitive and the Eagles did that at the Hickory Stick. They took second with Alec Hilliard pacing their play. He shot a 74.
Madison County tournaments Tuesday (girls) at The Legacy in Granite City and Thursday (boys) at Gateway National in Madison also set the table for the golf season. The Explorers won the MadCo small-school girls’ title and CM’s Sara Gwillim finished first in that competition and second overall. Marquette’s girls will play host to the powerhouse Blast-Off tournament on Aug. 29 at the Spencer T. Olin Community Course.
We’re just getting under way, though it promises to be a lively high school golf season — just like last year.
I’ll meet you at the 19th hole. That’s usually a good place to start and finish.
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